Geocaching in the Serrania de Ronda is something we learned about some ten years ago. A Belgian couple made a reservation to stay with us. It struck us as odd at the outset as it was for 16 days. Unusual. Most people book for a couple of nights, or a week, or rarely two weeks. But not 16 days. So we were naturally curious.
Every day they would request an early breakfast before they set off returning in time for dinner and always wreathed with happy smiles. Not unusual behaviour particularly as most guests spend time exploring this glorious area with its many little pueblos and historic towns and wonderful countryside and fantastic walks.
But there was something different about this couple´s experience.
So we found an opportunity to ask them. And lo, we discovered geocaching.
Treasure hunt for grown ups. If you don´t know what it is I will briefly explain.
The map below is from geocaching.com (the official site for this global hide and seek game. Each green circle is a cache and so many just in our small area. All hidden in plain view! Or not!
On May 2, 2000 GPS became suddenly very much more accurate than it had been. On the very next day a computer nerd in Oregon, Dave Ulmer, had the idea of hiding something in the woods, recording the GPS coordinates, and inviting his friends to find it.
There are now millions of what came to be known as Geocaches around the world including one on the ISS – the International Space Station. Not many people get to find that one!
Geocaches come in all different sizes but always contain a log for people to record their find and some trinkets. They come with the motto that if you take something out, you put something back. There are also TravelBugs which have a destination request. One left on the ISS asks:
Please take this bug to the NASA NEEMO Undersea Lab. Once it has been there, it needs to return home to me in Texas.
Tricky one that ♥
Back to earthly Cartajima and our magnificent backdrop of limestone crags called Los Riscos de Cartajima. Our Belgian guests suggested it would be an excellent place to hide a Geocache so we prepared one out of a BodyShop body butter container which was sturdy and waterproof sufficient to withstand the rigours of the weather both hot and cold up there in the heights. We hid it among the rocks where we deemed it reasonably accessible and waited to see what would happen.
Members of the geocaching site have the option to post their “finds” on the official geocaching site and we have received a couple over the years. But recently it was reported damaged and/or unfindable.
We planned an expedition up to the Riscos to fix it and took with us a replacement Cache that was very similar to the original. But even more sturdy.
To our surprise when we retrieved the tattered remains of our cache there was a log which showed that many people had visited the spot, found it, logged their visit, and replaced it. Just not bothered with recording it on the internet site. I was thrilled.
Our Belgian friends use their passion for geocaching as the foundation of their holidays. They pick a place, find the geocaches on the site, and then go and find them thereby exploring a whole new area. They said they found maybe 50% of the caches but it didn´t matter. When they did find one it was a moment of joy and celebration. “We found it!!!” I can just imagine people´s joy when they find ours hidden up there among the rocks in the shadow of the giant stone eagle.
As you can see in the clip below, the Ruta de las Eras as it is called is waymarked. Apart from the thrill of finding our cache whilst walking this trail there is the added attraction of the eras . These are circular threshing areas dating back to at least the Moorish times and perhaps earlier. Perfectly symmetrical, there are about four or five on this route.
You drive from Hotel Los Castaños on the road to Juzcar four kilmetres away, take a right just before entering the village and climb up until you reach an area for parking. From there you just follow the waymarks.
It takes about one and half hours to do the whole circuit – that´s if you don´t stop for a picnic, for a photo shoot, or to simply breathe in the magnificent air and the enormous views.
And finally a clue! We do hope you find our cache. There are a lot of rocks up there but this should help. Good luck!
Incidentally, the film shows the old damaged cache. The current one is completely different – shiny and new. You´re gonna love it.